Maine Attorney General Janet Mills announced Tuesday that her office has filed a civil complaint in York County Superior Court against two Biddeford men who allegedly violently assaulted an African-American man in April and used racial epithets outside a 7-Eleven convenience store on Alfred Street.
Dusty Leo, 27, and Maurice Diggins, 34, were arrested at the time and charged with Class A felony aggravated assault in connection with the alleged incident, Mills said in a news release.
According to Mills, as the alleged victim walked to a 7-Eleven store near his home at about 2:30 a.m. on April 15, the two defendants, who the man had never met, approached in a pickup truck and repeatedly used a racial epithet to address him.
Leo allegedly punched the defendant in the side of his head, breaking his jaw, and Diggins then allegedly hit him in the back of his head, throwing him to the pavement, according to Mills.
The man got up and ran, while Leo and Diggins allegedly chased him in their truck until he escaped by running into an alley on foot, Mills said.
The alleged victim, 34, also of Biddeford, was “significantly injured,” Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk of the Biddeford Police Department said Wednesday.
In addition to aggravated assault, both men were charged with criminal conspiracy and interference with constitutional rights, she said.
Fisk said police “are very familiar” with Leo and Diggins, “but not as it relates to this type of charge.” She said police are not aware of any provocation for the incident, and believe it was isolated.
“All Mainers should be shocked by this brutal race-based assault,” Mills said in the release. “This attack has shattered the victim’s sense of safety. No person should be afraid to walk to a store for fear of being attacked due to the color of his or her skin. We filed this action to protect not simply this victim but any person of color who might be targeted by these defendants.”
The Maine Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1992 and prohibits the use of violence, the threat of violence or property damage against any person motivated by that person’s race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation. Any violation of an injunction under the act is a Class D crime, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Leo was released April 23 from the York County Jail in Alfred on $2,500 cash bail, according to jail staff. Fisk said his bail conditions include that he report to the Biddeford police station every other day.
Diggins remains in jail, held on $10,000 cash bail and a probation hold. He was convicted in 2016 in Cumberland County of three counts of felony theft and sentenced to three years in jail, all suspended, and two years probation, according to the Maine Department of Corrections.
Fisk noted that since the alleged attack, the police department has received a number of phone calls from around the state from people who would like to send the alleged victim letters of support.
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